Finding what you need when you need it...how Web 2.0 can help

I know it's almost December but I felt duty bound to report on an article published in The September 2009 issue of Internet Newsletter for Lawyers, which I've only just read. The article called "Using Web 2.0 within your organisation"* is written by Penny Edwards of Headshift. Penny recently co-authored the report "Social Networking for the Legal Profession" so has considerable knowledge of how Web 2.0 could and some may say should be used within Law Firms.

The article begins by looking at some of the problems that exist within Law Firms in relation to managing information. "Much of the problem of information overload on projects is really a case of "filter failure". By stemming the flow of emails, making visible activities to people's team and colleagues, and enabling people to better navigate across information irrespective of where or how it is stored will help to ensure people find what the need to work more effectively"

Penny then discusses some of the tools that could be used, these include internal Twitter like messaging applications, Yammer is the tool that immediately comes to mind. Penny explains (and I agree) that these tools when integrated into a wiki or workspace allow people to "signal" to colleagues what they're working on, so that if they want to their colleagues can question them and discuss related ideas.

The article continues with a brief look at how dashboards can be used to provide one place for all activity, the Thoughtfarmer wiki application is an example of this type of tool, although most wiki applications like Confluence will offer some sort of profile page. The article follows up this with a section on how personal information like emails could be managed better by using personal start pages, the Socialtext application is given as an example. Similar to dashboards these tools enable uses to subscribe to recently added or updated content. Finally and this will be of interest to many Law Librarians is the potential for RSS to transform the current awareness services provided by Information Officers. "They distinguish was needs to be actioned...as opposed to what needs to be read or considered...They also curb email bombardment, giving people the ability to scan the information quickly"


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